Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Championship Bound!

For the better part of nearly 3 months, I've been playing in three basketball leagues.  I play in leagues on Monday, Thursday and Sunday.  The Sunday league didn't go that well as my team went winless in seven games.  The Thursday league hasn't been much better as my team currently has one win in seven games with two left to go.

The saving grace has been my Monday night team.  We finished the regular season with a 5-3 record and the #2 seed in the playoffs.  We squared off in the first round of the league playoffs tonight and rallied to win 75-64.   The win advances us to the league championship next Monday.

I've played tons of league basketball games (some 300+) in the past 18 years.  I've been in every type of game imaginable.  I've played exciting close games that my team has won.  I've also played some bad games where my team has been blown out.

Tonight's game rates as one of more satisfying wins I've ever been part of.  My team played ok in the first half but stumbled badly to start the second half.  We went from being down 4 points to down 10 very early in the second half.   We managed to cut the lead to 6 points with our bench.  The starters came back in and just torched the nets.  The other team was stunned and could not respond as we pulled away for the victory.

The reason that game was satisfying was that we did it as a team.  Our team has one guy who might be considered a star.  The rest of our guys just average players.  In addition, out of the roster of 9 guys, only two guys (27, 23) are under 30 with FOUR guys over 40 (42, 41, 46, 52).

I've learned that chemistry can't be understated which was greatly shown by the San Francisco Giants.  We all get along and pull for each other greatly and that has contributed to our team's success.  We have one more hill to climb next week in the championship game.  I'm confident that our team will continue to play together and give it our best shot next week.  Perhaps some of the San Francisco Giants magic will rub off on my team!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving / Things To Be Thankful For

It's the night before Thanksgiving.  It's a little chilly out in my neck of the woods but fortunately I'm at home and enjoy the warmth of being indoors.

Several years ago, I started a tradition of emailing my friends a list of "Things To Be Thankful For".  This year, I'll expand this to my blogging.  After all, many of us are middle class people have a lot of things that we may take for granted (jobs, families, money, cars, etc).

From my perspective, we shouldn't take these things for granted.   Any things we have could be taken from us at anytime.  We need to appreciate these things more greatly than we do sometimes.

In any case, here's my list of things to be thankful for this year:

  1. Family - This one is an obvious one.  Without family, I wouldn't be there.  Thanks to mom and dad for supporting me in all that I do.  No one's family is perfect including mine but we have to learn to overlook things as we go through our lives. 
  2. Friends - I've gone through plenty of ups and downs throughout my life and every step, I've had good friends to help me through.  Beyond some of my closest friends that I've known for years, I am thankful for everyone that I've met and had a chance to associate with in various activities. 
  3. Job - I was laid off in June of 2008.  I was hired for a job in August of 2008 but was laid off yet again in April of 2009.   I ended up getting rehired at my previous job in September of 2009 and have been there ever since.  When you've been through my situation, you get thankful for the job that you have.  It's not an easy job but I am thankful for the learning and growth opportunities it has presented in my time since I came back. 
  4. Health - I've been fortunate to be healthy in all aspects of my life and hope that continues in the future. 
  5. Basketball - Really, I could put any sport here.  I enjoy being active and sports gives me a workout and I feel like it relives me of any stresses I have in my life.   Sports used to be about winning and sometimes I forget this.  However, after some tough things this week, sports did give me a release and I felt great afterward.  
That's it for this year!  Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving everyone! 

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Things Happen For A Reason

Thursday evening, I left my work place around 6 PM to head to the East Bay for a basketball game around 7:15 PM or so.   Since traffic is pretty bad around this time, I typically call a friend or two to say hi and chat bit.  It alleviates some of the boredom of sitting in traffic.

For this night, I initially gave a call to someone I'll call "Friend #1".  This person is usually around and we hadn't talked for a while so I thought we could catch up.  However, Friend #1 didn't answer so I left a voice mail and continued on with my commute.

As I was driving, it occurred to me that I should call my coworker back ("Coworker #1").  I had called Coworker #1 around 5 PM to ask them something.  Alas, Coworker #1 was busy at the time and called me back at 5:30 instead.  However, I was busy and missed the call.   I thought about calling Coworker #1 back but ultimately didn't.  I was out of the office already and talking more about work would probably just drive me crazy.  It was around this time that I thought I should give a call to Friend #2 instead.  Friend #2 typically gets off work around this time and would be free for a little bit.

However, I resisted because I assumed Friend #1 would call be back.  However, 20 minutes into my commute (it turned into an 1 hour, 15 minute total commute), Friend #1 still hadn't called back so I figured they were busy.   At this point, I gave up the idea of calling anyone and focused on driving.

Well, a few minutes later, Coworker #1 calls me.  Since I'm still on the road, I talk to them a little bit about their day and asked them the question I had.  We talked for a few minutes before Coworker #1 had to go because he had some family things to talk care of.

Literally minutes after I hang up with Coworker #1, Friend #2 decides to give me a ring.  We again talk for a few minutes about our workday before they have to go.

Lastly, just when I thought no one else would call me (I had put my headset down), Friend #1 calls me back.  Unfortunately, I'm the one a little short on time so we only get in a short conversation before I have to go.

All in all,  it was great that I talked to these people.  I'd had a tough workday Wednesday and stress had been high.  So it was good to get a chance to decompress and talk with some people you know.   I didn't quite realize it when I was originally driving but felt a lot better after talking to these people.

Sometimes, even though things initially might not go your way (Friend #1 not around, doesn't call back right away), don't fret.  It was meant to be that others were around who wanted to talk to you plus Friend #1 got back to me eventually.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

San Francisco Giants - 2010 World Series Champions!

The San Francisco Giants defeated the Texas Rangers 3-1 Monday evening to win the 2010 World Series.  The win gave San Francisco it's first ever championship baseball team since the Giants moved to San Francisco over 50 years ago.

I will freely admit that baseball is not my favorite sport.  That distinction belongs to basketball.   However, the first ever professional sports event I attended was a San Francisco Giants game back around 1984 when I was about 10 years old.   I don't remember much about the game itself.  However, I remember that I went to the game because of a promotion the Giants ran.  The Giants were giving free tickets to "top students" who applied.  I asked my parents to help me with the application and next thing you know, I was at the game.

Over the years, I follow the Giants (and the A's as well).  I loved it when the Giants played the A's in the 1989 World Series.   Unfortunately, the A's were the better team that year and the A's swept the Giants in the earthquake interrupted series.  My craziest memory of the 1989 World Series was being at the Polo Fields before the start of game 3.  I had finished running in a cross-country match and was waiting for my other teammates when the earthquake struck at 5:04 PM.

The other moment that stands out is the 2002 World Series.  My friend was able to secure tickets to Game 6 in Anaheim and made the long drive to Southern California to watch the game.  We were thrilled to see the Giants take a 5-0 lead late.  LIke all other fans, we were stunned when the Giants lost 6-5 and then proceeded to lose Game 7 the next night.

However, with the 2010 edition of the San Francisco Giants winning the Series, all of the previous bad memories have been washed away.  I throughly enjoyed this year's Giants team.  They truly lived up to the definition of a "team".  Other Giants teams may have had a little better talent or bigger super stars, but the 2010 Giants probably had some of the biggest hearts ever.

While the previous Giants teams won't get rings, I'm sure all of the former players and others associated with the Giants organization are enjoying the moment.  Congratulations!

Monday, November 01, 2010

Three Point Shooting Point Guard

If you asked any of my long time friends who have played basketball with me over the years, they would not use the words that are contained in the title of this blog posting.

Over the years, I have garnered a reputation as a mid range (15 to 17 foot) jump shooter.  Because of that, I usually play the shooting guard or small forward positions on offense.

However, in the past year or so, I have slowly started to take a more active role in being the primary ball handler and passer.  The main reason for this was that I played on several teams with inexperienced players.   Early on, I tried to play my normal shooting guard and small forward positions.  However, I wasn't playing with my usual teammates and things were not going smoothly.  It just simply made sense for me to take over the ball handling duties and try to facilitate the offense.   It's not that I am a great ball handler or passer.   However, due to my experience (18+ years or playing in leagues), I brought some steadiness that I thought could be helpful.

In fact, this trend continues currently as I play point guard currently for a couple of teams.  Interestingly enough, both teams have not won a game.  Perhaps that tells you something about my point guard skills.

The interesting side effect of playing point guard has been my three point shooting.  Since I spend a good amount of time handling the ball, I don't get to shoot from my usual spots on the court as much.  During a game about a month ago, I decided to put up some three point shots instead.  The league was a friendship league and there weren't many complaints about me putting some shots outside of my usual range.  Interestingly enough, I knocked a couple of them down.

The trend has continued in the friendship league.  From my own unofficial count, I've hit at least two three pointers in the four league games I've played.  Tonight, in my Sunday night league, I added two more three pointers to my total (though I thought one was inside the three point line).

The unofficial count of TEN three pointers made is probably more than I've made in my previous 18 years of playing league basketball.  I simply did not shoot three pointers previously.   My shooting form just didn't seem to be conductive to effectively shooting three pointers.  I could hit shots one or two steps inside the three point line.  Move me back though and the shots would be short.

What's changed?  Nothing that I can point to directly.  The only explanation I can come up with is that I've playing so much basketball (4 times a week) recently so I'm in fairly good shape.  Thus the legs are strong and I can shoot better.